Sinking ships for wreck diving sites

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Explosives detonating to sink HMNZS Wellington (F69) in 2005

Sinking ships for wreck diving sites is the practice of scuttling old ships to produce artificial reefs suitable for wreck diving, to benefit from commercial revenues from recreational diving of the shipwreck, or to produce a diver training site.

To avoid undesirable ecological impact , and to maximise utility, the vessel should be selected and prepared, and the site chosen, with due consideration to the local environment.

Preparation[edit]

To prepare a hulk for sinking as a wreck site, several things must be done to make it safe for the marine environment and divers. To protect the environment, the ship is purged of all oils, hydraulic fluids, and dangerous chemicals such as PCBs. Much of the superstructure may be removed to prevent the hazard of it eventually caving in from corrosion. Similarly, the interior of the ship is gutted of components that corrode quickly, and would be dangerous to divers if they came loose. The ship is thoroughly cleaned, often with the help of volunteers interested in diving. A significant part of the cost of preparing and sinking the ship may be recovered from scrapping the contents of the ship, including valuable materials such as copper wiring. The hulk's suitability as a diving site may be enhanced by cutting openings in its hull and interior bulkheads, and removing doors and hatch covers to allow divers access at reduced risk.[citation needed]

Choice of site[edit]

Several factors influence the choice of site for recreational diving purposes, and these should take into consideration the possibly conflicting economic and ecological considerations.

  • The wreck should not create a significant hazard to navigation.
  • For maximum accessibility and diver safety, a shallow site in protected waters is preferred.
    • To reduce cost of access, the site should be near to a suitable harbour or launching site, in a region where existing or planned recreational diving infrastructure is available.
    • There may be a conflict of interests between groups which may profit from access to the wreck.
  • Sites further offshore make shore dives impracticable or dangerous.
  • Deeper water reduces access to less qualified divers, but increases risk for all divers.
  • More protected waters reduce risk to all divers and increase the useful lifespan of the wreck as a diving attraction.
  • Placement of the wreck will do some ecological damage. An ecological impact assessment should indicate acceptable long term consequences.
  • The site will influence the marine organisms that will colonise the wreckage, and the rate at which they will grow. Some may be more desirable at a dive site than others.
  • The site will influence the rate of silt deposition in and on the wreckage, which will affect safety and the local ecology.

Sinking[edit]

The preparation phase usually removes a significant amount of weight, so the ship floats higher in the water than normal. This may make it necessary to stabilise the vessel by filling some compartments with water as makeshift ballast tanks to prevent excessive rolling in port or during towing. The ship is towed to the sinking location, usually in waters shallow enough to allow access by a large number of divers, but deep enough to be relatively unaffected by surface weather conditions. The ship is usually scuttled using shaped explosives, in a controlled demolition. The holes may be blown so that the heavier engine room and stern floods first, then the rest of the hull. The aim is to sink the ship in an upright position.[citation needed]

Reception[edit]

The sinking of ships as recreational dive sites can provide wreck diving opportunities where they previously did not exist, and can provide wrecks which are particularly suitable for penetration by less skilled and experienced divers, when they have been prepared for the purpose by removing potential hazards and contents which would contaminate the site or region. However some divers see them as artificial, less interesting and less challenging, and prefer to explore the relatively unknown or mysterious surroundings of historic and significant wrecks which occurred outside of planned scuttling events, considering them to be more authentic. Scuttling programs may relieve more culturally significant wreckage from overexploitation, particularly incidental damage by less competent divers, but do not remove the threat of illegal intentional damage by removal of artifacts by wreck-robbers, who will target wrecks where there are more likely to be artifacts worth stealing.[1]

List of ships sunk for wreck diving[edit]

Ships sunk for wreck diving
Year Vessel Name Location Country/territory
2018 HMAS Tobruk (L 50) Queensland Australia
2017 Fishing Trawler, Gal'Oz Hertzliya, Israel Israel
2017 USCGC Tamaroa (WMEC-166) Cape May, New Jersey United States
2016 Vis Kamenjak, Istra Croatia
2016 General Pereira D´Eça F477[2][3] Porto Santo, Madeira Portugal
2015 ARM Uribe (P121) Rosarito Beach, Baja California Mexico
2015 USS Comstock[citation needed] Checheng Township, Pingtung Taiwan
2015 HMCS Annapolis[4] British Columbia Canada
2014 MV Ærøsund[citation needed] South Fionan Sea Denmark
2014 HTMS Kledkaeo (AKS-861)[citation needed] Phi Phi Islands Thailand
2013 Tug No. 2 Sliema Malta
2013 T11 Coastal Patrol Ship Ko Chang Thailand
2013 NRP Almeida Carvalho (A527) Algarve Portugal
2013 NRP Hermenegildo Capelo (F481) Algarve Portugal
2012 HTMS Chang, formerly USS Lincoln County Ko Chang Thailand
2012 NRP Zambeze (P1147) Algarve Portugal
2012 NRP Oliveira e Carmo (F489) Algarve Portugal
2012 HTMS Phetra (LCT-764) Ko Man Nok Thailand
2012 HTMS Mataphon (LCT-761) Ko Larn Thailand
2012 USCGC Mohawk Lee County, Florida United States
2011 USS Arthur W. Radford Cape May, New Jersey United States
2011 HTMS Sattakut (LCI-742) Koh Tao Thailand
2011 HTMS Prab (LCI-741) Chumphon Thailand
2011 HMAS Adelaide Avoca Beach, New South Wales Australia
2011 USS Kittiwake (ASR-13) West Bay, Grand Cayman Cayman Islands
2009 HMAS Canberra Barwon Heads, Victoria Australia
2009 P31 Comino Malta
2009 USNS General Hoyt S. Vandenberg[5] Key West, Florida United States
2007 USS Cruise Delaware Bay United States
2007 HMNZS Canterbury Bay of Islands New Zealand
2007 USTS Texas Clipper South Padre Island, Texas United States
2007 P29[6] Ċirkewwa Malta
2006 MV Cominoland[6] Gozo Malta
2006 MV Karwela[6] Gozo Malta
2006 HTMS Kut (L-731) Pattaya Thailand
2006 USS Oriskany (CV-34) Florida United States
2006 Xihwu Boeing 737[7] British Columbia Canada
2005 HMNZS Wellington Wellington New Zealand
2005 HMAS Brisbane Mooloolaba, Queensland Australia
2004 Hebat Allah [8] Hurghada, Red Sea Egypt
2004 USCGC Spar Morehead City, North Carolina United States
2004 HMS Scylla Whitsand Bay, Cornwall United Kingdom
2003 MV Camia 2 Boracay island Aklan
2003 CS Charles L Brown[9] Sint Eustatius Leeward Islands
2003 HMCS Nipigon Quebec Canada
2003 USS Leonard F. Mason Chaikou, Green Island Taiwan
2003 HTMS Khram (L-732) Ko Phai Thailand
2002 MV Dania[10] Mombasa Kenya
2002 USS Spiegel Grove[11] Florida United States
2002 HMAS Hobart Yankalilla Bay, South Australia Australia
2001 HMAS Perth[12] Albany, Western Australia Australia
2001 HMCS Cape Breton[7] British Columbia Canada
2001 USS Jubilant Veracruz Mexico
2000 HMNZS Waikato Tutukaka New Zealand
2000 USS Knave Puerto Morales Mexico
2000 USS Fort Marion HaiTzuKuo, Xiaoliuqiu Taiwan
2000 HMCS Yukon[7] San Diego, California United States
2000 Stanegarth Stoney Cove United Kingdom
1999 MV Imperial Eagle[13] Qawra Malta
1999 USS Scuffle Cozumel Mexico
1999 HMNZS Tui Tutukaka Heads New Zealand
1999 MV Xlendi[14] Gozo Malta
1998 MV Adolphus Busch Looe Key, Florida United States
1998 Um El Faroud[6] Qrendi Malta
1998 St. Michael Marsaskala Malta
1998 Tug No. 10 Marsaskala Malta
1997 HMCS Saskatchewan[7] British Columbia Canada
1997 HMAS Swan[15] Dunsborough, Western Australia Australia
1996 HMCS Columbia[7] British Columbia Canada
1996 MV Captain Keith Tibbetts (formerly Russian-built frigate 356) Cayman Brac Cayman Islands
1996 Inganess Bay[16] British Virgin Islands
1995 HMCS Mackenzie[7] British Columbia Canada
1995 MV Jean Escutia Puerto Morelos Mexico
1994 INS Sufa Eilat, Israel Israel
1994 HMAS Derwent Rottnest Island Australia
1994 SAS Pietermaritzburg, formerly HMS Pelorus Miller's Point, Western Cape South Africa
1994 HMCS Saguenay Nova Scotia Canada
1992 HMCS Chaudière[7] British Columbia Canada
1992 USS Indra North Carolina United States
1992 MV Rozi[6] Ċirkewwa Malta
1991 USS Algol New Jersey United States
1991–2001 "Wreck Alley" – Marie L, Pat and Beata[17] British Virgin Islands
1991 MV G.B. Church[7] British Columbia Canada
1990 Fontao Durban South Africa
1990 USCG Hollyhock Florida United States
1990 T-Barge Durban South Africa
1990 USS Chippewa Destin, Florida United States
1990 USS Yancey Morehead City, North Carolina United States
1989 YO-257 Oahu, Hawaii United States
1989 USS Blenny Ocean City, Maryland United States
1989 USS Muliphen Port St. Lucie, Florida United States
1988 USS Aeolus North Carolina United States
1988 USS Rankin Stuart, Florida United States
1988 USCGC Unimak Virginia United States
1988 USS Vermilion Myrtle Beach, South Carolina United States
1987–2000 Wreck Alley San Diego, California United States
1987 USCGC Bibb[18] Florida United States
1987 USCGC Duane[18] Florida United States
1987 Rainbow Warrior[19] Matauri Bay New Zealand
1987 USS Strength Panama City, Florida United States
1987 USS Accokeek Gulf of Mexico United States
1985 Eagle Florida United States
1983 USS Curb Key West, Florida United States
1982 MS Logna Grand Bahama Island Bahamas
1982 USS Scrimmage Waianae, Hawaii United States
1980 USS Mindanao Daytona Beach, Florida United States
1980 USS Harlequin Isla Mujeres Mexico
1980 Oro Verde[20] Cayman Islands
1978 USS Dionysus North Carolina United States
1975 USS Mona Island Wachapreague, Virginia United States
1974 SS Theodore Parker North Carolina United States
1972 USS Fred T. Berry Key West, Florida United States
1970 Mohawk Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina United States
1970 Glen Strathallen Plymouth Sound United Kingdom
1968 USS Mizpah Palm Beach, Florida United States
1944 Jun'yō Maru Samalona Island, South Sulawesi Indonesia
1942/1984 ITS Scirè Haifa, Israel Israel
1942 USAT Liberty Tulamben Bali

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Edney, Joanne (November 2006). "Impacts of Recreational Scuba Diving on Shipwrecks in Australia and the Pacific - A Review". Micronesian Journal of the Humanities and Social Sciences. Albury NSW, Australia: Heritage Futures International. 5 (1/2 Combined). ISSN 1449-7336.
  2. ^ "Cordeca". www.portugaldive.com. Retrieved 17 March 2020.
  3. ^ "NRP General Pereira d'Eca F477". www.shipspotting.com. Retrieved 17 March 2020.
  4. ^ "HMCS Annapolis sunk to make artificial reef". CBC News. 4 April 2015. Retrieved 5 April 2015.
  5. ^ "Vandenberg sinking this morning". MSNBC. Associated Press. 2009-05-27. Retrieved 2009-05-28.[dead link]
  6. ^ a b c d e "Diving the wrecks off Malta and Gozo's Coastline". Paradise Diving Malta. Retrieved 2012-09-04.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h "ARSBC". Artificial Reef Society of British Columbia. Archived from the original on 2010-08-05. Retrieved 2010-08-20.
  8. ^ "Hebat Allah". Red Sea Wreck Project. 19 August 2013. Retrieved 21 March 2017.
  9. ^ "Charlie Brown Artificial Reef". Golden Rock Dive Center. Retrieved 2011-06-07.
  10. ^ "5 Star PADI IDC Centre, Kenya, Zanzibar". Buccaneer Diving. Retrieved 2010-08-20.
  11. ^ "The ''Spiegel Grove'' is believed to be the largest ever wreck deliberately sunk as a diving site". Fla-keys.com. Retrieved 2010-08-20.
  12. ^ "HMAS Perth (II) - Royal Australian Navy". Navy.gov.au. Retrieved 2010-08-20.
  13. ^ "MV Imperial Eagle & Kristu l-Bahhar". Subway Dive Centre. Retrieved 2012-09-04.
  14. ^ "Top wrecks of Malta & Gozo". John Liddiard. Retrieved 2012-09-04.
  15. ^ "HMAS Swan (III) - Royal Australian Navy". Navy.gov.au. Retrieved 2010-08-20.
  16. ^ "BVI Dive Site: Wreck of the Inganess Bay". Bvidiving.com. Retrieved 2010-08-20.
  17. ^ "Cooper Island". Dive BVI. Retrieved 2010-08-20.
  18. ^ a b Williams, Chris; Bowen, Linda (2008). "Wrecks of the Duane and Bibb" (PDF). Advanced Diver Magazine Ezine (1, reprinted from ADM issue 4): 62–72. Retrieved 2009-06-04.
  19. ^ The Bombing of the Rainbow Warrior
  20. ^ "The Cayman Islands Shipwreck Expo Directory Capt. Dan Berg's Guide to Shipwrecks information". Aquaexplorers.com. Retrieved 2010-08-20.